Framed: Interview - Hayden Dalziel
We caught up with a young Perth talent we'd like you to meet.
Hayden Dalziel is a Perth-based artist and musician creating a steady stream of drawings, comics, tunes and posters. Their work has a current focus on intricate black-and-white illustrations that delve into the strange and surreal, and we're loving this direction. Hayden is also a frequent contributor to local zine Xero Boys and the University of Western Australia's student publication Pelican, where you can find some of the aforementioned. Most recently, they took some time to have a chat with us about all things creative.
Hi Hayden! What have you been up to lately?
Right now I'm working on the cover for the December issue of XERO BOYS and trying to write an EP! XERO is an art zine with a hugely different range of styles, lots of black and white ink work, lots of queer themes and contributors, it's pretty great. The EP is in very early stages but it's coming out through Workplace Safety CDRs in February. I'm also hoping to work on some commissions soon, like the one from a wonderful woman in Korea who wants a lot of baoab trees.
Who are some of your influences, stylistically?
I started out drawing the tiny bowmen from Age of Empires when I was six, so I'm going to say Ensemble Studios. That's why for the first few years of drawing everything was angular half-naked men with bows and arrows, it was a very homoerotic game in hindsight. In more recent years I've been influenced by films a lot more than I have been by artists, the last art show I did featured a giant poster for Ken Russell's The Devils and I think it's also come out in other ways. More than anything else I'm influenced by artists who are close by, people who contribute to Xero Boys, particularly Ackley Ack, Richard En, Han Atcheson, DLB, Stale Kale and a few others. Amber Masterson, another Perth artist, did a print series a few months ago that I thought was one of the best things I'd seen in a long while, I always find her work inspiring.
Do you have a preferred medium to work with?
I normally work with a giant tub of black ink, and not much else. But I do really enjoy oil painting, I think I just haven't found the time for it recently.
What kind of subject matter do you like to explore, and why?
Increasingly it's had themes of queer identity, I think I used to be uncomfortable with having art centered around my identity but now it's something that comes through a lot. There's also a lot of slightly fucked-up period costumes and sea creatures as a result of being brought up on too many documentaries. Sickness (I think because I work as a carer), Mold and Dissolving are also something that's been happening more recently, not in a nasty way though. I've started leaving drawings out in the rain or the damp until they grow mold or the ink runs, I plan to have an exhibition that smells really bad sometime soon.
What does your usual creative process entail, from the start to finish of a piece?
I find having the initial idea for a drawing really easy, so I go through sheet after sheet of bad quality paper until I have a big stack. Then I decide on the best one, put on loud music (Death Grips or The Pissedcolas currently) and start working. Usually I do it all in one go because I find it difficult to revisit old drawings, so I can be sitting in the same place for up to ten hours if it's on A2.
Your visual art also includes comics, what first attracted you to that art form?
That's been a very recent thing for me! But it seems like a natural move because my drawings have always had a narrative and have always been illustrative in nature. I think people have been saying I should draw comics for quite a while.
You’re also involved with various musical projects, tell us about those?
I started out doing quite bad experimental electronic music when I was seventeen, but I got a lot better and started getting radio play which was really encouraging. I started a band with Tom Freeman around the same time called Baskervilles and that's actually still going albeit with a better name and different members. This year I started playing guitar in a band Richard En started called The Cars That Ate Paris and that's been pretty exciting, we're going to do a lot more gigs soon. As I said before I'm doing an EP for release in February, which is basically a mix of all of the above.
Merging the two interests, you also design gig posters?
I haven't been doing this nearly enough! For the last year or so I've only really been doing them for my own gigs or for the occasional commission. I think it's just because I'm no longer willing to work for free and promoters aren't willing to pay for a poster, not because they're evil and hate art or anything, just because there isn't any budget for the poor local gig poster when they can easily put a photo (or their MS Paint art in one case) on the event page. That said, I do occasionally do a poster for the bands themselves when they commission something for a tour.
Is there any advice you’d give to other young artists finding their way?
I'm still finding my own! I guess what's helped is that it's worth seeking out people who do similar work because they'll help you more than anything else, and to not be afraid to organise your own events. I think there's a perception that all artists are solitary, passive and should rely on others to have their work "discovered" (by who?) but not everyone works that way, and it's probably easier for most people not to have expectations like that. In reality, there are as many types of artists and working methods as there are types of people, so anything I say is inaccurate for someone else. It's just about finding what works for you.
Where do you hope to be a year from now?
I rarely plan more than a week ahead, but next year has become a weird exception. By this time next year I hope to be finishing an editorship of Pelican Magazine with my back unbroken and relatively intact mental health (a big ask). Hopefully also finishing another year of uni, a few more music shows and perhaps a particularly bad-smelling art show filled with mold.